Long-term or chronic stress may affect the structure, function, and size of the brain. When you encounter stress, your brain releases a hormone called cortisol that is responsible for your “fight-or-flight” response. Too much cortisol in the brain results in: (1) loss of synaptic connections between neurons which is the transmission of messages between nerve cells, (2) fewer brain cells are replaced, and (3) Shrinking of prefrontal cortex which is the part of the brain that regulates concentration, judgement, decision-making, and social interaction.
This means that too much stress may affect a person’s behavior as well as the ability to learn and remember things. To make the matter worse, this emotion may lead to more serious cognitive problems such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Stress can deteriorate health physically. In fact, it is one of the contributing factors of many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Few of the most common manifestations of stress are: headaches, indigestion, high blood pressure, chest pain, memory loss, and sleeping problems. Stress may also make you feel irritable, restless, and moody which can affect your relationship with other people.
Managing stress is one of the most helpful things you can do for your health. Fortunately, there are many stress reliever techniques that can strengthen your tolerance to challenging situations. Two of the most helpful approach you can do are exercising and mediation which includes: deep breathing, being aware, and keeping focus on the surroundings. Diverting sadness and frustrations to other things such as gardening, reading, cooking, or drinking beverages that can lower cortisol levels such as tea are also helpful in relieving stress.
Most chronic stress is due to overworked, financial burden, arguments at home, and being in a toxic relationship. Facing these life challenges alone is difficult. Thus, having a support system is highly important to overcome stress. Your family and friends are great outlets to share anything that is bothering you and in making you feel better.
Taking control of stress is difficult especially when you feel alone. This is why some people mismanage their stress by developing unhealthy habits such as: alcohol, drugs, and gambling to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, instead of relieving stress and putting them on a better state, these habits will only worsen the situation and cause more problems.
Stress is not the actual problem but how we respond to it. Staying focused, strengthening your mind, trusting yourself, and surrounding yourself with good people who care and love you are the key factors in managing stress.